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Rajnath Singh hints at reducing security forces in north-east

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Guwahati: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday expressed concern over the large-scale deployment of security forces in the northeast and asked the chief ministers to conduct a “reality audit” for deployment in their states.

Rajnath Singh, who reached Assam on Friday evening, chaired a meeting of the chief ministers of the northeastern states on security and development on Saturday.

The home minister assured deployment of central forces when actually needed, saying reduction in deployment in the region without compromising on security was needed to encourage outsiders to think positively about the northeast.

“There has been significant improvement in the security scenario in the entire northeast in the past few years. The overall insurgency level is at an all-time low,” he said.

Stating that Mizoram, Tripura, a large part of Assam and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh were “almost free of insurgency”, he said there was a strong desire for peace in Nagaland and Manipur too.

Rajnath Singh said that at present, the deployment of forces was even more than when insurgency was at its peak.

“We must plan to reduce the security deployment so as to make the environment easy to encourage positive thinking among outsiders about the region. I would like to urge all the chief ministers to have a realistic audit of deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces,” he said.

While there was curfew in Manipur, author Binalakshmi Nepram tweeted pictures of agitation between security forces and protestors.

Rajnath Singh expressed concern over the recent activities along the India-Myanmar border, saying there were reports of insurgents, weapons and drugs crossing the international border.

“I have constituted a committee headed by Joint Intelligence Committee chairman R.N. Ravi to review how to effectively manage the India-Myanmar border. The committee has reviewed the matter and is expected to submit its report soon,” he said.

The home minister said there was a need to tighten vigil along the Bangladesh border too.

Rajnath Singh also took up the issue of people living near the international border.

“We should not ignore the people on the border. There are some 240 villages along the India-Mynamar border and over two lakh people within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. This large population is without any worthwhile security cover and they are at the mercy of insurgents. A similar situation prevails along the India-Bhutan border,” he said, appealing to the chief ministers to pay attention to this crucial area.

“You may consider opening and strengthening of police stations in the border areas,” he said.

Rajnath Singh also appealed to the chief ministers to provide land for border fencing.

On the issue of withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the region, the home minister said it would be withdrawn wherever the situation improves.

(IANS)

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Why Does Trump Separate Families, A Policy Or A Law?

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection

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In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018.
In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, June 17, 2018. VOA

The Trump administration at least since April has been separating children and parents who enter the United States illegally at the border — that much is supported by the numbers. But much of everything else surrounding the practice has become mired in confusion.

Here is what we know:

In recent weeks, news stories of children in detention centers have circulated more widely, and the numbers of detained children have grown.

Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters Friday that between April 19 and May 31 of this year, nearly 2,000 (1,995) children were separated from their parents or other adults with whom they were traveling.

A video released Monday by Customs and Border Protection shows what appears to be humane conditions at a shelter site for children, but many worry that this video, the only video that has been released from within one of the detention centers, may not accurately depict them.

A policy or a law?

As criticism over the separation of parents and children at the border grows, the Trump administration has struggled to explain the policy.

Trump, himself, said the practice is the result of a law passed by Democrats, which has forced his administration into separating parents and children.

But there is no such law.

Rather in May, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy, which means that those detained entering the United States illegally would be criminally charged. This approach generally leads to children being separated from their parents because the law requires it.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks about religious liberty at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual leadership mission in Washington, June 13, 2018, VOA

On Sunday, senior policy adviser to the Trump administration Stephen Miller told The New York Times that the crackdown “was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry. Period.”

Administration officials, including Miller and Sessions, have defended the separation of families, saying that having children does not exempt anyone from the consequences of breaking the law.

“If you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we’re going to prosecute you. … If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Sessions told a gathering of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

The administration has said the new practice is directed at combating a “surge” of unlawful border crossings. But the “surge” appears to be numbers marking a return-to-normal after a dip last year.

Not a new idea

Though the practice of treating all people who cross the border unlawfully as subject to criminal prosecution is new under the Trump administration, it is built on existing policies from the Bush and Obama administrations.

Amid a surge of unlawful migration from Central America to the United States in 2014, the Obama administration considered many plans to deter illegal border crossings, including separating parents and children. Ultimately, Obama decided against separations but did expand the detention of immigrant families. New facilities were opened along the border, which held women and children for long periods of time before their cases were processed.

Following widespread criticism after photos of detained women and children, accompanied by testimonies of people being held for extended periods, a federal judge in Washington effectively ruled that asylum-seeking mothers could not be held for longer than 20 days, leading to what has been called a “catch and release” system where adults were released with GPS ankle monitors tracking their movements until their cases could be heard in court.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.
=U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018. VOAU.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18, 2018.VOA

But this “catch and release” system has been heavily criticized by Trump and his administration.

Also read: Trump Launched A New Attack On Mueller Probe In Russia

“This get out of jail free card for families and groups who pose as families has spread,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “The word of this has spread. The smugglers and traffickers know these loopholes better than our members of Congress. I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country. This must stop,” she said. (VOA)